Science-based reasons why organic is better— for everything

42031415_MAre you seeking a high-quality, medical-grade potency, safe and effective CBD oil? Many people are beginning to learn more about the wellness benefits, and want to explore their options. If you or a loved one has health issues, even more is at stake regarding the quality of the food, products and medicine that you take. That’s why we want to make a critical recommendation: choose organic.

Chances are, you’re one of the many Americans choosing to eat a healthier diet and trying to live a lifestyle that supports wellness. Maybe you’ve adopted a fitness regimen; maybe you’ve already started eating more fruits and vegetables, and are choosing organic produce when you can. If so, then it will be no surprise to you that we’d recommend choosing an organic CBD oil, as well.

The preference for organic products isn’t just a trend among health-conscious people. Science is demonstrating that organic farming and practices are better for everyone, and have a range of measurable benefits.

Please, don’t just take our word for it. Here are three reasons that the experts recommend going organic.

Reason 1: Organic produce has a higher nutritional value. According to some research, plants actually produce higher levels of the vitamins, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that strengthen their defenses against natural pests (bugs), weeks, and other adverse conditions. Those increased nutrients are good for our bodies.

Reason 2: Organic produce is less likely to be contaminated by chemicals and heavy metals that can have adverse impacts on our bodies, health, and wellbeing. Why take the chance? We know that common pesticides, such as Roundup, have been shown to be known carcinogens. Others can cause negative cognitive impacts, inflammation in the body, and have a range of other negative impacts. Why take the risk? And if you’re suffering from a pre-existing health condition or long-term illness, why add more burden and strain on your body by taking in toxic chemical residue?

Reason 3: Organic farming and production practices support healthy agriculture — which leads to a healthier people and communities. Limiting and disallowing chemical pesticide use spares the soil from building up residue. It allows for the growth of natural bugs that have an overall beneficial impact on the environment. It avoids breeding superstrains of bacteria that have become resistant to chemicals and more likely to cause illness, and resistant to antibiotic treatments. Organic practices also spare pollinators —such as bees, and birds — which help crops to produce year after year. All of these practices lead to a healthier, more nutritious yield.

Just as organic is best for our food, it is also best for nutritional support products like CBD Oil. By now, many of you know about the benefits of full-spectrum CBD Oil for anxiety, inflammation, pain and sleep, but most don’t know that most CBD Oil comes from overseas, is grown in toxic soil and is extracted using a chemical extraction method that may leave traces behind. Our CBD Oil is organically grown, extracted using the safest and best extraction method, CO2 extraction and is produced at a facility run by the same organization as the growers, thus ensuring high quality, safe and effective CBD Oil.

Want to learn more? We encourage you to visit us online to read more about how organic practices in CBD oil production are critical to producing a better quality, safer and more effective product.

Combating Alzheimer’s with Brain Health Optimization and the Bredesen Protocol

47499705 - 3d medical background with male head with brain and dna strands If you’ve ever misplaced your keys, had trouble recalling a name or fact, or forgotten important information, like where you parked while out shopping, you can understand the fear and frustration that comes with temporary memory loss. Yet millions of Americans experience far more serious memory challenges in the form of Alzheimer’s disease, which is responsible for up to 80 percent of dementia cases.

Numbers like these demonstrate not only why Alzheimer’s is recognized as one of the world’s most burdensome diseases, but also why finding research-based, proven methods to improve brain health is increasingly critical.

And there is hope.

Dr. Dale Bredesen is recognized internationally for his ground-breaking research into ways to not only treat Alzheimer’s more effectively, but potentially prevent and even reverse the disease. Dr. Bredesen and his team from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging developed the Reversal of Cognitive Decline, or ReCODE. The science behind ReCODE comes through the examination of the pathogens of Alzheimer’s and the implementation of multiple strategies that seek not only to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but also address specific health issues that lead to Alzheimer’s. The results of their studies are very promising.

Proactive Wellness Center’s founder and director, Dr. Lynese Lawson, D.O., is certified through the Institute of Functional Medicine to use ReCODE, also known as the Bredesen Protocol, in the treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s. Through extensive research, she determined that the Bredesen Protocol provides the best evidence-based approach to Alzheimer’s diagnosis and treatment. This protocol is a core piece of our Brain Health Optimization Program (BHOP).

What is the Brain Health Optimization Program?

As an overview, our Brain Health Optimization and Treatment program includes:

  • Initial Consultation: You’ll be scheduled for a two-hour consultation at our Tyson’s office with your Bredesen-Protocol doctor to review test results from your cognitive evaluation.
  • Physical examination: Your doctor will perform a physical evaluation that will be used in determining your personalized treatment plan. This evaluation is typically conducted during the same visit as your two-hour consultation.
  • Baseline cognitive: Like the physical exam, this is typically during the two-hour consultation.
  • Additional consultation: A 90-minute appointment with your Bredesen-Protocol doctor, which can be conducted in-office or via tele-video, occurs on a date separate from your initial consultation and will cover the remaining tests that were not covered in the initial visit. Your doctor will also review the core elements of your personalized treatment plan and present the results of our evaluation in a personalized “cognoscopy.”

Of course, to understand the benefits that the Bredesen Protocol and BHOP offer to Alzheimer’s and cognitive impaired patients, it’s important to first understand how to recognize what Alzheimer’s is and what it isn’t.

Recognizing Alzheimer’s Disease

There are many factors that distinguish forgetfulness from something more serious. To help differentiate between Alzheimer’s and the normal aging process, we’ve created a basic list of indicators. For a more comprehensive list as well as a deep-dive into how lifestyle, genetics, head trauma history toxin exposure and more may contribute to the development of Alzheimers, visit our web page dedicated to Bredesen-Protocol strategies to improve brain health and reverse cognitive decline.

  • Vision challenges: Deteriorating eyesight is common as we age, but for those with Alzheimer’s, spacial relationships, distance and contract become a challenge.
  • Memory loss: If you go to the store without grabbing your shopping list, it’s easy to forget one or two items but remember them later. However, with Alzheimer’s, people frequently forget key dates of life events such as birthdays and anniversaries. They also are more likely to ask for the same piece of information multiple times. The memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disrupts daily life
  • Conversation difficulties: As we age, we may find that we have shortness of breath when we speak or walk. And almost everyone can get tongue-tied during conversations from time to time. People with Alzheimer’s, however, are more likely to misuse words, repeat the same story during a single conversation, demonstrate difficulty recalling words or even find it hard to follow conversations.
  • Familiar tasks: For those with Alzheimer’s, familiar tasks, such as driving to or from home, can suddenly become unfamiliar. This leads to disorientation and difficulty following directions. Those with normal age-related memory loss are better able to retrace their steps upon getting lost.
  • Mood and personality changes: We are all prone to frustration when things aren’t done the way we are used to or prefer. This is a normal part of life. But for individuals with Alzheimer’s, pronounced changes in personality and mood, as well as social withdrawal, are often evident.

If you see these symptoms or others related to cognitive decline in your loved one (or yourself), they may be a candidate for the Brain Health Optimization Program. Together, we can help those we care about lead quality lives. A cognitive evaluation with Proactive Wellness Centers is the first step toward better brain health. To establish a baseline for treatment, we combine our age-normalized cognitive evaluation with the renowned Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

Once you receive the results of the neurological assessment and are ready to begin working with Dr. Lawson, you’ll be advised of the recommended next steps. We’re excited to make Brain Health Optimization Program and the Bredesen ReCODE Protocol available to you.

How Do You Choose to Live?

If asked, you would say that you live a good life. You’re comfortable in your home and job. You even get to take vacations once or twice a year.  But you can’t seem to shake the feeling that something is wrong inside.  You just don’t feel your best and you have been to the conventional doctor and been told that “everything is all right”.

When it comes to healthcare, you have two primary choices: Either trust your healthcare to the conventional allopathic medical system where the focus is on disease management, pharmaceutical medications and surgery, or opt for the new paradigm in healthcare, frequently called Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) or just Integrative Medicine.  The choice is yours and the question is which way do you choose to live?  Read on to learn more about the two choices.

The System That Fails Many People: Conventional Allopathic Medicine

Do you find yourself being a bit more irritable than you know yourself to be?  Or, maybe you are experiencing perimenopause and you have some up and down days and maybe even a hot flash here or there.  Your doctor probably just told you that this is just part of the “normal” aging process.  Do you find yourself a little short of breath when you walk up the stairs? Or do you have overwhelming fatigue and have been to multiple doctors, even the ones at the world-renowned clinics, but have been told that nothing is wrong or even worse, you have been misdiagnosed. You may have even been prescribed an anti-depressant!  Or, has the life been zapped from you with constant muscle and joint pain and once again no diagnosis has proven to lead to helpful treatment?

Conventional allopathic medicine is pretty good with treating single system well-defined illnesses where there is a known drug or surgical solution that works.  But where the illnesses are multi-system, multi-symptom and not fitting one of the established disease patterns, you may feel lost and without hope.  Or maybe you are healthy and just searching for a doctor to help you optimize your health so you can stay that way.

Conventional allopathic medicine would have us believe that our bodies are meant to breakdown once we hit the 50s and 60s. While accepting this idea may be good for your short-term finances— it isn’t the way to live if you want to be running around with your grandkids when you’re in your 70’s and 80s. Keep reading to see how Mary, a 75-year-old tutor, maintains a part-time job, exercises a few hours per week and keeps up with her grandkids on the playground every Saturday.

Mary was born in the summer of 1943 when the minimum wage was just $0.30 an hour and the life expectancy was 68 years for females and 61 years for males. She grew up in a small Eastern Tennessee town known for its whiskey and bluegrass music. Now, like most Americans, she grew up with the notion of, “if it ain’t’ broke don’t fix it.” But when it comes to healthcare in the 21st century, this approach is not the best way to approach your body if you want the golden years of the 60s – 80s to truly be golden.  The reality is that conventional allopathic medicine isn’t the answer either.  You have to empower yourself to take care of your health using all that modern medicine and science has to offer.

The following illustration and commentary explain why conventional allopathic medicine doesn’t work for many patients.

  • The waiting room shown above is a typical site for a busy family practice office.
  • Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) typically have patient loads of over 2,000 patients and see as many as 35-40 patients in a day. With those numbers, it is easy to see why there is no time to discuss complex symptom histories needed to diagnose and treat complex chronic disease.
  • Visits with conventional PCPs last between 5 -23 minutes with the average somewhere between 15-17 minutes according to multiple recently reported studies and reports.
  • Most of these doctors are doing what is “allowed” within the confines of insurance-based medicine where with very few exceptions, the focus is on disease management rather than prevention.
  • Consider that excepting well-baby care, mammograms, colonoscopies, periodic physicals once you are beyond a specified age and a very short list of other items, conventional medicine does NOT pay for prevention. You have to be sick to visit the doctor and for him/her to get paid.
  • Most of these doctors are operating from the “standard of care” manual that is outdated and does not include emerging approaches to prevention and disease management.
  • Even if they were to get trained in these emerging approaches, they can’t deviate from the “standard of care” without risk of losing reimbursement

Mary’s wake up call

On December 12th, 1983 when she was just 40 years old, Mary’s older sister Joann, died. She had a sudden heart attack.  This unfortunate event in Mary’s life caused her to wake up to the fact that she needed to take care of her body.  Joann was not a smoker nor an alcoholic, she got her regular checkups and was told that “all was fine” other than being a little overweight. In fact, Mary had recently spoken to Joann and when Mary asked about her health (because she was overweight), Joann said “My doctor said that I am fine as my total lipid panel is 198 (“normal”).  Over the years, Mary’s sister Joann had become more and more overweight. Every time she would go over to her house, she would be eating fast food. Her job exposed her to harmful chemicals and she never worked out. She was diagnosed with hypertension at the young age of 32, and although she took her daily pill for high blood pressure, her lifestyle continued to wreak havoc on her body.

This was Mary’s wake-up call. Her sister’s body had been giving her all kinds of signs that something was wrong. But sadly, she ignored every one of them. Fortunately, Mary made a decision from that day forward to live a long healthy life.

Conventional medicine is cheaper in the short run but what about the long term?

What if I told you that you didn’t have to suffer from declining health as Joann did? And all it takes is more of an investment upfront rather than later when it’s too late?

Sure, conventional allopathic medicine may be cheaper now. But what happens 10, 20, 30 years from now when you’re staring at a skilled nursing home bill? Following the traditional ways of healthcare will ultimately catch up with you and cost you more in the long run when there are expensive surgeries, costly monthly prescriptions, and skilled nursing facility costs.

Before Mary decided to invest in herself, it was a completely foreign idea to her. Like most of us, she grew up with the ingrained idea from the very beginning that when you get really sick, then you see a doctor. Otherwise get your periodic checkups, pay your $10-$20 copay and all will be fine until it isn’t.  Then there are pills and surgery to fix things if you develop a disease.

Mindless Suffering Ends Here with Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the medical approach that focuses on the optimal functioning of your body and your organs. It focuses on understanding the root cause of disease then implementing strategies to optimize your body in order to avoid disease and proceed gracefully through the so called “golden years”.  Physicians that practice this way typically refer to themselves as practicing “integrative” and/or “functional” medicine.

CAM practitioners use very advanced lab testing (some of which is not covered by insurance) and advanced imaging that together with traditional markers gives a more complete and accurate picture of the biological age and health status of the patient.  These markers include genetics, advanced lipid markers that go well beyond the conventional standard lipid panel, volumetric imaging of the brain, chemical, heavy metals and environmental toxin exposure testing including mold and Lyme disease testing and much more.  For example, had Mary’s physician looked beyond the standard lipid panel, he/she might have seen that while her overall cholesterol numbers were fine, that she had lots of very small dense LDL particles and that her LPPLA2 (inflammation marker) was through the roof and her Cardio CRP was also elevated.  All of those markers are readily available with an advanced lipid panel.  They might also have done some non-invasive imaging such as a Carotid Intima Media Thickness (CIMT) ultrasound and found that she had dangerous plaque in her arteries.  If found early, they could then have implemented interventions to help Joann avoid having that massive heart attack that killed her.  Remember that about 50% of patients that die from a first-time heart attack patients don’t even make it to the hospital according to the CDC.

Even the world-renowned Mayo Clinic has adopted CAM as a viable treatment approach and has a wing dedicated to alternative treatments.  According to an article written by the Mayo Clinic, approximately 30% of adults report having used CAM.  Read here for more:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/alternative-medicine/art-20045267.

Also, due to the increasing popularity of CAM approaches, there is now a new federal organization under the National Institute for Health (NIH), called the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).  This organization is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and integrative health approaches whose mission is to define through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.

The benefits of choosing complementary and alternative medicine over conventional allopathic medicine  look something like this.

 

 

The specific advantages of using Complementary and Alternative Medicine over Conventional approaches are:

  • A healthcare model that empowers you to take charge of your health
  • A healthcare model that leverages the current body of emerging clinical evidence, where conventional medicine relies mostly on what was taught in medical school 30 years ago.
  • Initial visits regularly last 1.5 – 2 hours so that there is sufficient time for the practitioner to understand your medical history at a detailed level including possible environmental exposures, familial history, personal disease history, symptom etiology along with your health goals and treatment preferences.
  • Significantly more detailed laboratory analysis focused on achieving optimal levels rather than being within laboratory reference ranges. In many cases the laboratory reference range is a statistical range that 80-85% of the population fits into.  CAM-based physicians operate from “optimal” ranges rather than these laboratory reference ranges and they use a much broader array of tests since they can use both insurance-based tests as well as tests that insurance routinely don’t cover.
  • You get personalized precision care plans since practitioners are armed with a detailed history and more detailed laboratory analysis. This is a big one if you’re tired of the “one size fits all” model that most conventional doctors follow today that has led nowhere after several years of trying to determine what is wrong.
  • A focus on the root cause of an illness rather than just treating the symptoms. This approach leads to true healing rather than just masking symptoms.
  • A focus on preventing chronic illness rather than the wait and hope approach of managing the disease once it has manifested
  • Practitioners have a bigger toolbox full of treatment options. CAMS physicians use medications, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathics  and nutrition/lifestyle as part of a total solution. Conventional practitioners pretty much just use medications and surgeries including many “band aid” medications that may do more harm than good and many surgeries that don’t resolve the issue. For example, many patients suffering from menopause symptoms that present with mild depression end up getting prescribed anti-depressants.  Also, many patients presenting with MARCoNS (Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci) from mold exposure end up having sinus surgeries that almost never resolve the MARCoNS.
  • The “total cost” of electing this model of healthcare is significantly lower than the cost of conventional care, if you factor in the costs of the expensive medications and surgeries, the cost of lost time from work and the impact on your mental health for going for years without getting treated effectively. In the short run, there are some out of pocket costs that you will need to pay to get this kind of treatment but in the long run, you will likely live a healthier life in the golden years.

The Choice that Mary Made

Mary started listening to her body. She went through specific tests designed to figure out the status of her body from a perspective of optimizing her health.  She had many tests done that were outside of insurance but these tests revealed subclinical deficiencies in nutrition, gut health, cardiovascular health and brain health.  It should be clear that these deficiencies would never have been detected by a physician working in the conventional allopathic model .   Then, working with her physician, they created a plan to optimize her suboptimal areas through clinical interventions, lifestyle changes, dietary changes and exercise – all geared towards preventing chronic illness. Investing in her health was the best choice she could have made.  Looking at the picture above, we can see that Mary made the right choice.

When you first start out on this journey of preventing illness and being proactive there can be some resistance either from within, someone close to you or even your conventional doctor. This is completely normal. But in order to enjoy the long-lasting benefits of integrative, functional and preventative care, you must push through this.  Through integrative and functional medicine, you can not only prevent many chronic diseases, but if you do get one, it can be treated in a way that brings about real and lasting healing.

At Proactive Wellness, we have seen patients come to us with chronic illness that hadn’t been focusing on optimizing their health.  Many of them are significantly debilitated, unable to work and therefore leading a very compromised life.  However, we have also seen some of our long-time patients who worked year in and out on optimizing their health become victim of a tick bite and develop Lyme disease or become exposed to a moldy building at work and develop mold illness/CIRS.  There is, however, a marked difference between the two cases. The optimized patient is not debilitated, is highly functional and able to continue with life while getting treated.  We have seen these scenarios repeated many times over the years and it is very clear that when patients have optimized their bodies, they are much more able to withstand a disease and persevere through it without debilitation.

We are pleased to offer a wide variety of treatments to help you starting with our Wellness/Optimization/Prevention programs and continuing through our chronic disease treatment programs including Lyme Disease, CIRS/Mold illness, parasitic infections, viral infections such as Epstein Barr, gastrointestinal illness including Crohn’s disease, intestinal permeability and others.  To get a precise diagnosis, we leverage leading-edge genetic testing and advanced lab testing using some of the best testing facilities in the world.  This allows us to deliver personalized, precision diagnosis and treatment.  Some of the specific programs we offer include bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), heart attack, and stroke prevention, the Bredesen protocol to prevent and reverse cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s and related diseases, advanced detoxification/binding/chelation programs, and IV Nutritional Therapy.

We are excited to be a part of this movement that is bringing real change to healthcare.  We are pleased to see and hear how these treatments are transformative for people that feel as though they got their life back.  In closing, we will share one true short story of a patient who came to our practice when he was 49 years old.  For his 50th birthday, he had hoped to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.  When he presented to us, he was 80 pounds overweight, had numerous lab that were outside of the optimal range and had little hope of climbing 19,000 feet to the mountain top although that had been his dream for over a decade.  But we were able to create a personalized clinical plan for him that ultimately helped him to lose 80 pounds and make significant improvement in multiple markers in a little less than 9 months, and he went on to climb the mountain and achieve his personal goal.  Just before he left, he asked us to make a banner for him and we are so pleased to have been a part of this with him.

The choice is yours.  How do you choose to live? Will you be a Mary or a Joann? Without your health, you have nothing! Investing in yourself can make a significant difference with how you age, not only for your present and future happiness, but also for your loved ones. If you don’t take care of your body then you may not be able to enjoy the golden years in the way that you had hoped. Living long is one thing, but living a long and healthy life is what most of us want.   Are you ready to climb your personal mountain?

Click here to find out more about our clinical team and what we do to help you get back your health and take charge of your life.

We are driven to diagnose and treat cognitive decline

If you have noticed a family member or close friend struggling with memory loss, frequently asking the same questions, telling the same story, or suffering from mood swings, they could be suffering from cognitive impairment.  It could be early stages of one of the many types of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.  The graphic below shows how Alzheimer’s causes atrophy (shrinkage) and death of brain cells.

It’s important to know that cognitive impairment is a wide umbrella and doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one is heading toward debilitating disease or losing the ability to take care of themselves. Getting treatment from medical professionals who are trained to treat cognitive impairment is crucial.

A study by the National Institutes of Health says the ApoE4 allele represents a critical risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Berislav Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., who led the study, said “Understanding the role of ApoE4 in Alzheimer’s disease may be one of the most important avenues to a new therapy.”

The Centers for Disease Control also cites age as another significant risk factor for cognitive impairment and related diseases. We’re living in an era where one of the largest segments of our population—the Baby Boomers—is rapidly reaching retirement age. The CDC reports there are already 5.1 million people age 65 or older living with Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of cognitive impairment. And that number could more than double in the next 30 years.

Dr. Dale Bredesen is on the front line fighting cognitive impairment, especially Alzheimer’s disease. He has developed a protocol that uses advanced testing, targeted medical interventions – including hormone support, immune regulation and detoxification – combined with specific dietary and lifestyle optimization to help dramatically reverse cognitive decline.

Our Dr. Lawson has earned certification in the Bredesen Protocol, and we are proud to offer it to our patients with our Brain Health Optimization (BHO) Evaluation and Treatment program. Dr. Lawson is passionate about helping patients with all types and levels of cognitive impairment fight for a better quality of life.

Patients can expect a comprehensive consultation, physical examination, and an assessment to achieve the best results.

Our Comprehensive Initial Brain Health Assessment consists of as many as 11 batteries tests, which are then summarized in a report we call the “Cognoscopy.” It brings together all of the findings, and summarizes risks for each of the six types of Alzheimer’s disease. It also includes a clinical plan to optimize health and reverse mild cognitive decline if it has begun.

Our initial evaluation and treatment includes:

  • Part 1: 2-hour in-office consultation to review core test results.
  • Part 2: Physical examination (usually on same day as part 1).
  • Part 3: Baseline cognitive assessment (typically on same day as part 1).
  • Part 4: 1.5-hour additional consultation (day 2 or later depending on availability of test results). This appointment can be in office or via tele-video.

You can enroll online or give us a call to discuss your specific circumstances and receive the best direction toward action and improvement.

HOW TO GET GREAT INTEGRATIVE AND FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE CARE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

Now that you have learned enough to know that the proactive and preventive approaches adopted by Integrative and Functional medical practitioners like Proactive Wellness Centers is the way you want to go with your healthcare instead of the wait and hope disease management approach of conventional allopathic medicine, the question is how to pay for this care without breaking the bank.  Read on to learn more.

HSA-Flow-Chart

There is a less than well known provision in the tax code called an HSA Account, not to be confused with the well-known but significantly less useful FSA Accounts.  Since Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were established in 2003 as part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act, they have become an increasingly popular option for consumers and employers seeking to manage their healthcare costs. HSAs combine high-deductible health insurance plans with tax-favored savings accounts. With a High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), you generally pay less each month in premiums, and the money in the savings account is then used to help pay healthcare costs before the deductible is met. Now, here is the key point and this is huge —  Contributions to the HSA are tax deductible, and withdrawals are tax-free when used to pay for qualified medical expenses, including dental and vision – expenditures many traditional health insurance plans may not cover.

Here are the key rules and properties of HSA Accounts:

  1. Contributions are tax deductible in the year you contribute – regardless of whether you spend the funds in that year or not
  2. Withdrawals to pay qualified medical expenses (almost any) are without penalty
  3. Funds may accumulate in the account and are never lost (unlike FSA accounts where funds expire annually)
  4. To have an HSA Account, you must have a high-deductible health care plan that meets the requires of the Act that created HSA accounts. This can be employer sponsored, purchased from health.gov or any other plan the meets the requirements.
  5. Qualified health care plans must have a minimum deductible of $2700 (family) and a maximum out of pocket not to exceed $13,500. The plan must meet the Minimum Essential Coverage requirements set forth in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Note: Most plans meet this requirement.

Given all of this, how do HSA accounts help you to get the care you deserve without breaking the bank?  Here is your action plan for your next open enrollment period.

  1. Explore plan choices and choose a high-deductible plan that meets the Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) requirement. Note, this will save you money when compared to a lower deductible plan.
  2. Take the savings in insurance and put this into an HSA account, preferably one sponsored by your employer but if not, then you can get one at banks that offer plans. For example, https://tinyurl.com/y2mmhd2j
  3. Now, if you can afford it, add additional funds to your HSA account up to the maximum allowed that year. For 2019, a family can save $7000, $8000 if over 55 years old.
  4. Now, throughout the year, use the HSA card directly with your provider or you can also reimburse yourself from your HSA if you use other payment methods. Hint: for easier recordkeeping, just use the HSA credit card for medical expenses that the HSA administrator/bank provides.

If you follow that approach, your out of pocket health care expenses are all being paid with pre-tax dollars.  If you think that doesn’t make difference, consider this example:

Assumptions: Family taxable income of $160,000

From federal tax tables, marginal tax rate is 28% (tax on next dollar earned or savings on next dollar that is deducted)

Family lives in the state of Virginia, so the state tax rate is 6% making total marginal tax rate = 34%

With these assumptions, let’s examine the impact of our 8,000 HSA contribution.  With marginal tax rate of 34%, the $8000 deduction saves $2720 in taxes.  This is real money.  If the family spent all $8000 of the contribution on health care expenses, the actual cost of the health care expenses in real “after-tax” dollars is $5280.

In this way, using the HSA account reduced the family spend to get great care that will pay dividends later in life with better health by $2720.  The best part is that if they didn’t spend it all, 100% of the funds carry over and are available the next year, but they still got the tax savings in the year deducted.  This is truly a win-win for the family.

The funds in an HSA account can also be used to pay for co-pays for medications, dental and vision care, nutraceuticals if prescribed by a physician, ambulance bills in the event of an emergency and non-medical therapeutic charges such as physical therapy, assistive devices (i.e. hearing aids), acupuncture treatments and numerous other medically related expenses.

Have a small business where you can “control” the benefits, then select a high-deductible plan then have the company contribute to the plan on your behalf and you are on the way to saving money and being able to get the kind of health care you deserve.  You deserve better than 10-minute visits focused on disease management and harmful prescriptions. You owe it to your body to get the best integrative and functional medicine care possible and why not save money at the same time.